This past Saturday, I participated in a Mud Girl Run in Jacksonville. I was blessed to have Kathi as a partner in crime – and am really grateful because she was the instigator. (Always nice to have someone to blame 😊). 20 obstacles over 3.5 miles, mud, mud puddles, piles of dirt and mud (at an Equestrian Center…think about that for a moment), climbing obstacles, balancing on webbing, bouncing on giant inflatables that resemble swiss cheese, lifting weights, trail run surfaces, paved surfaces, inflated tunnels that dumped into a lake, fording a river/creek and a lake, inflatable slides, scaling cargo nets, and hundreds (at least) of women not caring one little bit about the dirt.
Then we all showered together in public in Dr. Bronner’s magical shower tank (think car wash for humans). MGR supports Breast Cancer Research and promotes empowering women (of all ages).
The event was not timed, there were no bibs. We just lined up and started in waves every 15 minutes. Let the fun begin! The first little bit, there were no obstacles (many 0.1 – 0.2/mile), but there was a little mud puddle. It was funny to see everyone carefully walk around it – and later see them more than knee deep in mud and yuck. As I mentioned, the event was held at the Equestrian Center, and some of the dirt was really black and healthy appearing (definitely not beach sand). Can’t help but consider the composition of the mud.
In the start corral, we were encouraged to at least try all the obstacles; but reminded that if it presented a safety/health issue, to just walk around the obstacle. I could see the very last obstacle before the finish line and knew that it, coupled with the tall slides would likely be my biggest fear challenges. Putting that aside, I was determined to take each challenge as it came. I am really proud of the fact that Kathi and I did every obstacle. Even the ones that really challenged us.
I climbed inflatable slides. The first one was tough – not the climb – but making it to the top. The young man at the top was very encouraging, but my mind was screaming “go back”. I was really afraid to let go of the hand grips and stand upright on the top. That feeling, though. The one when I stood up and looked down and realized how high up I was. I climbed it and didn’t back down. How sweet that victory slide down was. More mud separated us from the next slide. The climb was easier this time. The slide down was even better. We did a cargo net climb/crawl thing…then on to the last obstacle. The idea was to climb on webbing up and over the walkway into the starting zone, the back down the other side and to the finish line. I hesitated, heard “the voice” starting to screech about climbing and falling and not making it over. I decided the only way to the finish line was OVER, not around, and it would be one webbing strap at a time. Crawling up wasn’t so bad. Crawling across the top was terrifying and turning around to crawl back down the other side was almost paralyzing. By the time I was on the ground on the other side, my legs were shaking so bad I wasn’t sure I would stand – and my arms were like noodles. That lasted just until I realized what I had just accomplished. For me – this was huge – totally worth the cost of the event.
I am so grateful that Kathi asked me about this event, and that we did it together.
Later, Bill and I were talking about it. He mentioned that most of the participants appeared to be younger (in age). This event is probably targeted to a younger audience, although the advertising encourages all ages to join. My guess was that not many women were going to voluntarily pay to play in the mud. I also told him that my guess was that while that might claim they were too old, or that it wasn’t for them – there was most likely a part of them that wondered what it would be like, or perhaps would really like to try it but “what would people say”? I would say – do it. NOW. It doesn’t matter what people would say or think. What does matter is what you think. There were a whole bunch of women playing in the mud, climbing dirt piles, and channeling their inner child with little concern for the opinions of others.
I have friends that would be absolutely horrified at the thought of getting muddy – never mind being in it up to your neck. Actually higher…the only dry part at the end of the run was the top of my head. And that was only dry until the group shower.
This was a very large lesson in grace. Everyone had their own reason for participating. I have had family and friends affected by breast cancer. I have experienced the growth that comes from obstacle events. My biggest reason was selfish and personal. I wanted to meet the version of me that would be crossing the finish line. I am really proud to be that person, and more than I believed I could be.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the other grace lesson from this. My personal cheerleader and support crew – Bill. He encourages and supports me, believes in me (when I don’t believe in myself), and tolerates waiting around for me to toe the line, and cross the line. I don’t know what I did to deserve that man, but am so grateful that God engineered this.